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Wimbledon: Sania, Paes win in doubles


London : Sania Mirza and Leander Paes kept the Indian flag flying high by winning their doubles matches in the Wimbledon tennis championships here.

Sania, teamed up with Israeli Shahar Peer, defeated Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson and American Lilia Osterloh 7-5, 6-3 in the first round of the women's doubles Friday.

Paes and his Czech partner Martin Damm, seeded fifth, had a tough fight to get into the third round of men's doubles event. The India-Czech pair defeated James Auckland of England and Australian Stephen Huss 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 7-6.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer turned up the heat early to snuff out hope for Marat Safin, scoring a 51st straight grass-court victory 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) for a place in the second week of the tournament.

Third seed Andy Roddick also survived a tight third set to beat Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2), while Justine Henin and Serena Williams scored dominating victories on the women's side. Third seed Jelena Jankovic had to struggle to advance.

Federer now heads into the business end of the Grand Slam, which he has won for the last four years. A fifth title would tie him with Bjorn Borg in the record books.

Safin struggled from the start against the top seed, failing to make any impression in the 19-minute first set and finding himself down two sets to love after less than an hour.

But the third set was more of a battle, with the big Russian taking it into a tiebreaker to force Federer to work for his win in just over 90 minutes.

Federer moved out to an 8-2 lead in the series as he won his 31st straight match at the All England club, where he last lost in the 2002 first round to Mario Ancic.

The victory was revenge after losing the final of the 2005 Australian Open to Safin, winner of only ten matches at Wimbledon in eight appearances.

Federer will begin afresh next week when he plays German Tommy Haas, who booked his place over Russia's Dmitry Tursunov 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.

In other matches, fifth-seeded Fernando Gonzalez was hustled out as Janko Tipsarevic confirmed Serbia's rise as a new tennis power. The 64th-ranked outsider made up for a loss to the Chilean at Queen's club two weeks ago with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 8-6 victory.

Another seed fell as American number nine James Blake went timidly 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) to Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Justin Henin Hardene kept motoring through a low-key opening week in her bid for a first Wimbledon title, reaching the fourth round with the cumulative loss of just 11 games. The Belgian, who lifted a fourth career French Open earlier this month, secured her third-round win 6-1, 6-3 over Russian Elena Vesnina.

The contest was interrupted for more than an hour by a passing torrential rainstorm.

Hardene, 25, owns six Grand Slam titles – but they do not include Wimbledon. She lost the final last year to Amelie Mauresmo and was beaten by Venus Williams in 2001.

An excited and on-form Serena Williams, a two-time champion, needed just 43 minutes to crush Milagros Sequera of Venezuela 6-1, 6-0.